I have a lot of wonderful friends who are gifted and talented in many ways. I know people who can fix computers, create recipes from scratch, code websites, play instruments, twirl batons, raise children and remodel houses. But, for all these fantastic people, there is one type of friend I don’t have, and I am keenly aware of their absence. You see, I don’t know a single person who has a fruit tree in their yard, and these days, as we head into the final hurrah of the summer growing season, I feel this void acutely*.
Until I moved to Philly, I always knew people with fruit trees. Sometimes we even had them (my family spent four years living in a house that had once been owned by a botanist. There were some amazing lilac bushes, a gorgeous non-stinky ginko and a small cluster of apple and pear trees at the very back of the property). There was always someone who would call up to invite us over to pick pears or say, “would you mind if I left a grocery bag full of plums on your front porch?”
When I was young and we still lived in Los Angeles, we have several plum trees in the side and back yards. I would often take a little wicker basket with a handle that could be looped over my arm out and pick the plums. I would wash a couple of them in the water from the hose (pretending that it had actually been a pump) and plunk down under a tree to eat my harvest. I felt safe in those moments, pleased on every level, including the instinctual ones that I had been able to gather my food.
There is something about being given an abundance of ripe fruit that makes me feel wealthy beyond measure. It satisfies some deep part of me, leftover from a past life or implanted through years of reading Laura Ingalls Wilder (have you read Farmer Boy? The food descriptions in it are amazing), that still believes I live on a farm and need to ‘put things up’ in order to get through winter. This would be the same part of me that loves to cook with sugar and butter and enjoys putting together a meal of roasted meat and lots of starches so that the men will have enough energy to finish the work in the fields. I realize it’s irrational, but it pleases me nonetheless.
*Please don’t take this post as me begging for people to give me fruit (although, if you happen to have a surplus of some delicious thing in want of a home, I wouldn’t say no).